Ken General Thread: Go with the Flow



VT2 users: It’s early, but I’m liking the reduced pushback from the fully-mashed shinryuken, making midscreen juggles much more practical. However, I did have trouble juggling with EX tatsu, even off of situations where we used to be able to do so.Was EX tatsu stealth-nerfed, or are you guys still getting those? Instead, I found EX shoryu juggles to be more consistent.

It’s not the worst change, but I did like the better corner carry on EX tatsu juggles, preferring them when I landed a jugglable shinryuken midscreen.


So Ken still suck or what? Just been logging in to get the MH armor. Seems Cammy got buffed and Balrog is a terror, and the nerds to top tiers like Rashid and Guile were laughable.

Ken gets a low jab that you can grab from and step kick combos?

Hmmmm yah?


Rathalos armour is swag as hell.

I think the d.LP buff is good. D.LP has always been the better button to meaty with because of its 3 active frames. Its speed and the fact that you hold down back means it’s also great against characters like Urien and Ed since, if you timed your meaty correctly, you can recover and block if they tried to wake up Ex Headbutt / Ex Upper.

The new c.LP also overall makes Ken’s pressure a lot “stickier” than before. However it will take a lot of relearning, e.g getting used to using c.LP in situations where you would have pressed s.lp, or previously.


So watching Big Bird’s victory over Xian at Saigon Cup, what really stood out to me was BB’s use of this block string:

s.HP, s.LK (buffer MK tatsu)

It’s excellent because s.HP is so minus that the opponent is very likely to press a button after blocking it, then they get checked by the LK.

What I don’t understand though is what input he used to input s.LK buffer tatsu, cause any buffer input I can think of runs a high risk of getting LK tatsu instead. Anyone able to figure this out?


The more I play 3.5 the more I feel that there’s very few scenarios (punish, confirm hit off jump heavy attack) where pressing s.LP, b.MP is optimal anymore. Rather than letting your pressure end with a blocked -2, much better to go for c.LP pressure.


I agree, I’m trying to train myself to go for cr.LP where I would’ve gone for s.LP before (mostly on blocked jump-ins, especially crossups, and meaty pressure).

What do you like to follow the cr.LP with usually? There are a ton of options, I’m liking mixing between throw, another cr.LP, and cr.MK (combos on counterhit, catches walking backwards).


Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out the optimal 3/4 branches for a decent mix up that covers all defensive options.

The other issue is confirmability. Right now I favour d.LP x2 into walk forward throw/shimmy stand HP/micro walk d.LP,s.LK because these options let me confirm on hit and still mix up decently. However i wanna explore d.LPx2, micro walk instead of s.hp more since is safe on block, late confirmable on hit and catches walk back. The pros seem to outweigh the con of losing crush counter damage.


Interesting, I’m guessing the micro walk does more to bait a reaction than the delayed 2nd cr.LP that I’m doing. My only concern there would be getting thrown during the microwalk, since the pushback for cr.LP is so low. Does that happen to you much?


Late reply, but I now think that you were right, and this trio of options (with an occasional d.lp, s hp thrown in if you read a very late tech) is really the most optimal.

You da man


LOL thanks, I try. When I get to play these days, I still stick with those three (though I sometimes get stuck on the first two, and forget the third). Good call on the s.HP, the reward is really high on that option, especially in the corner.

Meanwhile, looks like the Ken army has thinned out quite a bit…even though Kens seem to be doing better this season than last.


Yeah, it’s weird though. This is my favorite version of SFV ken easily. I know S1 Ken was higher tier, but the stuff that made him good was kinda bs and encouraged going full abare.


Same here. Season 2 was the low point, and I sat out most of season 1 (and yeah, that jumping tatsu stuff was stupid).

As the year’s gone on, it’s become harder for me to understand why so many good Ken players still run VT1. I’m thinking the theory is that the buffed meterless damage frees Ken to use his meter to try and close the gap, but his tools are poorly suited for it (j.EX tatsu is pretty predictable and easy to stuff, sneaking in after EX hados seldom works against alert opponents).

We’re gradually seeing more VT2 Kens, but VT1 still seems to be more common at higher levels.


Well even though I started this season with VTII, I ended up switching back to VTI for the following reasons:

  • VTI lets you steal turns off a blocked hadouken, stand HK or V skill. That turn steal can often lead to the change of momentum that wins the round

  • I got killed a lot trying to use VTII to blow through fireballs in neutral. To be able to blow through a fireball with VTII, you need to be pretty close… Just outside dash range. Maybe it’s online or my old ass or whatever, but standing at that range while trying to react to a fireball made me free to dash ins and jumps. Guile, the match up where I needed it the most, was the worst. After awhile it seemed better to just wait for an opportunity to V skill xx VT1 and hope that one turn would lead to the win.

  • Reward of VTII level 3 just didn’t seem worth it for what I was giving up. If I used level I, I get to use it more for potentially more damage, but I lost oki and V reversal, which seemed to me like a pretty bad trade.

I’m willing, hell, I want to go back to VTII. Can you share how you’re using it?


I use VT2 for mostly things we talked about earlier this year, off the top of my head:
-tacking damage onto button+fireball strings
-tacking damage onto any shoryu (AA and light confirms mostly, but also trying to catch stuff with HP shoryu in the ground game, need to do more research there)
-tacking damage/stun onto step kick combos midscreen
-blowing through fireballs, and
-dealing with super-ambiguous aerial stuff (it’s great vs specials like hooligan, demon flip, etc; hit or miss vs jumps, you have to catch them early).

The benefits I really like are a) using my meter for racking up stun and corner carry, both of which are important for Ken, and b) the 2-bar factor means I get vtrigger early and/or can be really aggressive with vreversals to get out of bad situations.

All these things were worth giving up the stolen turn of VT1 for me. I’ve experienced exactly what you’re talking about vs Guile players, particularly with jumps, and I don’t know if I have a great answer yet there. Maybe we have to be ready to walk back/backdash, maybe it gets easier to react to jumps with practice, I don’t know. Also I seldom use the lvl 1 of VT2; I thought early research showed that you get pretty good oki off of it, but it’s just not something I’ve messed with much.

All that being said, I do need to play more.


Man after reading your posts, I tried. I really tried to see if I could go back to maining VTII, but after two weeks, all I had to show for it was losing 2k LP and dropping into Ultra Plat.

After this two weeks, I’ve concluded that VTI is superior to VTII arguably in all match ups, even Sim, Kuma and Guile… The only exceptional might be Cody, because VTII seems to have been custom made to counter Tornado Sweep.

Two main reasons why VTI is plain superior:

  • The fact that you can go into VTI on block means you’re wasting resources a lot less than with VTII, even though VTI can only be activated later in a match.

To elaborate: When I was using VTII, I was constantly on an edge, trying to land the optimal confirms into VT.

However there were lots of matches where, despite my best efforts, it was just too “late” when I finally landed a hit. In these matches, against an opponent playing tight with his defense, I ended up just sitting on that full V Bar unless I took some ridiculous risk to land a hit.

However with VTI, I never had to worry about this, because, whether they blocked or got hit, the moment I made contact, I could bust that gauge and good things would happen.

  • Even though I agree with you that most of VTI’s enhanced skills have questionable usefulness against an informed opponent, there is one exception.

Shakunetsu hadouken. This move puts Ken in the driver’s seat for 20 sec and really does effectively set up comebacks. This was something I never realised how much I missed until I started using VTI again.


Sorry about the LP man, that sucks.

I get what you mean re: the fire and forget nature of VT1 (doesn’t matter if it’s blocked off many normals), but having your VTC blocked isn’t great. After that you get one mixup chance, and then you are stuck without access to VReversal. You have to hope that you can keep up the momentum off the VTC mixup all the way to victory, which didn’t happen for me enough back in seasons 1-2 to believe in VT1.

I guess I don’t feel the same pressure to land VT2 when I’m playing; I tend to pretty much play my normal game, and feel free to spend VT2 when I land hits, since it puts Ken in great position afterwards (and I can often build a second VT in the same round). It’s also great feeling that I can vreversal whenever I want to without sacrificing my VT; it’s pretty much an either/or proposal in VT1.

Even though I agree with you that most of VTI’s enhanced skills have questionable usefulness against an informed opponent, there is one exception: Shakunetsu hadouken. This move puts Ken in the driver’s seat for 20 sec and really does effectively set up comebacks. This was something I never realised how much I missed until I started using VTI again.

Can you please explain how? I know his VT1 fireball gets better frame data and knocks down, but haven’t seen how it allows Ken to take control of the neutral game.


The speed of the actual fireball and the knockdown make all the difference.

Because of those two, if the opponent does anything but block or pre emptively jump, he’s on his ass and nearer to the corner. Fishing for crush counters, trying to bait your buttons with the footsie shuffle, dashing in… All those options are out.


I’ll have to keep an eye out for that, thanks.

The risk/reward on fireballs is generally so bad that I may be underestimating them.